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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The First Visitors

The First Visitors.

As already stated, Mr W. Williams and Mr Colenso visited Ahuriri in 1843, and the following year Mr Colenso came to reside at Waitangi. For a year or two he had no white page 37 neighbours save the whalers, but then traders began to come to the port, and settlers from the Wairarapa were attracted by reports of the quality of the grazing land on the plains.

Two early descriptions of Hawke's Bay are to be found in the Wellington press. On April 24th, 1841. Mr W. B. Rhodes writes to the "New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator" as follows: "The district is known by several names: that most familiar is McDonald's Cove. Many pronounce the native name Awrkli, but Aoriri, the name I use, is sanctioned by the missionaries. The roadstead is sheltered from the prevailing winds; and there is good anchorage in eight fathoms of water one mile from shore. The place would answer as a seaport second to Port Nicholson. The pa is built on an island at the entrance of the river a few yards from the mainland. I should recommend the principal settlement to be placed about ten miles inland on the banks of a river communicating with the port, being near the centre of a fine alluvial valley apparently surrounded by hills of moderate elevation containing probably about 200,000 acres of grass land, mostly clear of fern, and with the exception of some tutu bushes, all ready to put the plough into without any preliminary expense of clearing. There are three large groves of fine timber on the that sufficient for all purposes of building and fencing. I have seen no place equal to it in New Zealand for de-pasturing sheep and cattle."

On May 3rd, 1845, the "New Zealand Spectator" contains a record of a walk along the East Coast, by Messrs J. Thomas and Harrison. They arrived at McDonald's Cove on October 27th 1844, eighteen days out from Wellington, and found it good for page 38 vessels of 100 tons. They say: "The Land immediately around the lagoon is swampy and would require an embankment to render it available for the formation of a township. At the mouth of the river are two sandy islands which might answer for n few stores, but there is no wood, and water must be brought from a distance. The natives want to sell the plain of Hauriri as they want white people to come and settle among them, and doubtless it will make a fine settlement and secure much of the trade of the East Coast, offering as it does the only place of shelter against all winds from Port Nicholson to East Cape."

In a volume of letters by Bishop Selwyn to the secretary of the S.P.G., published London. 1847, there is a description of a journey from Kapiti Island via Waikanae, Otaki, Manawatu river. Ahuriri, Rotorua and Auckland to Waimate. Hay of islands. The Bishop and his party must have been one of the first white men to pass through the Manawatu Gorge and visit the interior of Bawke's Bay. The following brief extracts relating to the early part of the journey may be of interest to readers:—"November 4th, 18J2j lauded at Waikanae and proceeded to Otaki, joined there by Missionary Hadfield and the Chief Justice. Nov. 5, reached Hewa Rewa, on the Manawatu H. Sun., Nov. 6, spent day at Rewa Rewa, conducted divine service and distributed copies of Gospel of St. Matthew. Monday. Nov. 7, began ascent of Manawatu with 6 canoes, each manned by 8 Maoris. Nov. 8, 9, 10, passed through the Gorge and reached a small Native settlement called Kaiwi-tiki-tiki, on the river hank. At one place in the Gorge the canoes had to be unloaded and carried past some rapids. The chief at Kaiwi-tiki-tiki presented party with 25 baskets of page 39 potatoes and treated them kindly. Gospels in return. Friday, Nov. 11, reached highest navigable point of river, and after walking all day through hush encamped on small plain on the bank of the infant Manawatu. Sat.. Nov. 12. Mr Hadfield returned to Waikanae. Sunday. 13th, conducted service and remained in camp. Enjoyed the songs of unnumbered tuis. Nov. 14th, struck camp, dived into a deep gully, crossed the river for the last time.' crossed a few small creaks, passed through dense bush, and in a short time came out on the edge of a plain extending as far as the eye could reach; crossed the Makarotu. Tukipo, Tukituki. Waipawa-nlate and camped on the Waipawa river. Plain called Rua-o-taniwha. Nov. 15 walked over low hills on which wild pigs were very numerous; crossed small plain; reached Native settlement called Roto-atara; this place is on a small island in a small lake. The chief came to meet us dressed in an English suit of white duck, white hat, stockings and shoes; his wife wore an English bonnet and a brilliant red spotted gown. At 1 o'clock met Archdeacon Williams and Mr Dudley, as per appointment made by letter from Otaki on Oct. 13. Nov, 16th, reached Ahuriri after passing over noble plain watered by the Tukituki."